Hussain and the Struggle for Justice

The material in this section of the website seeks to promote an understanding of the most important event in Muslim history, after the death of Prophet Muhammad, as Shi’a Muslims understand it, namely the martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of Muhammad, the third Imam according to Shi’a understanding.

Each part is available as a PDF file, either left click the PDF icon to view in your Web Browser, or right click to save the document to your desktop. (Adobe Reader or compatible web browser required.)

Section 1. Introduction to Hussain and the Struggle for Justice.

A leading Shi’a centre in London proposed to hold a conference for the general public in the summer of 2020 to make known the person, teaching, life and death of their third Imam or divinely-appointed spiritual and community leader in line of succession to Prophet Muhammad. Both Sunni and Shi’a scholars were due to take part because the martyrdom of Imam Hussain is not a sectarian issue; both traditions regard those who had assumed leadership of the Muslim community at that time, the Umayyad Dynasty (661-750), to be, in the main, unworthy of that position due to their lifestyle and the manner of administering the community. The conference did not take place due to the lockdown imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus resulting in Covid-19.


Dr Chris Hewer was asked to prepare a short book to set the events of the martyrdom of Hussain and his companions in a context and to draw out reflections that are relevant for people in all generations. The book was based on Shi’a sources so that readers could be assured that they were drawing an understanding of these events within that community, which has a special love and respect for Imam Hussain and the struggle for justice in which he engaged. The book was eventually published by Contemporary Thoughts Press.


A fundamental religious principle is that great religious figures do not belong alone to the community in which they arise but rather, because they belong to God, they have a relevance for all human beings, who can draw insights into human living by reflecting on their life and teaching. To exemplify this, each of the sections of the book begins with a short paragraph of contemporary reflections to stimulate thought and discussion.


The book is offered here as a resource for teachers who want to improve their teaching of this seminal element of Shi’a Islam and also for those wishing to fulfil a commitment to Worldviews teaching. The text can be used to stimulate classroom discussion and written work reflecting on the human condition and what might be learnt about these ultimate questions of human living through the vehicle of such study. In Section 2 of this resource additional material has been presented to facilitate study: a map of the Arabian Peninsula to locate events geographically, a timeline to show the unfolding of events historically, a glossary of terms used and a who’s who of the central characters mentioned. There is also a background article to place the events within a wider context of early Muslim history and finally further reading from this website to augment more in-depth understanding.


The book has been presented in the Study Text part of this resource with each section being a separate pdf, which can be downloaded by clicking on the section heading. This enables teachers to locate sections of the text to copy and draw out for more detailed study. Because the text was written for a general audience, it is suitable for use by Key Stage Three students at the teachers’ discretion.

Third party endorsements of this material.



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